There’s something very fulfilling about fixing something on your own. Especially if it’s something you have no prior experience with. Something that may have been a little intimidating at first. I’m a person that always thinks he can DIY something. We’ll call it a mix of being overconfident in my abilities and hating the idea of paying someone else for something I could do on my own. With the internet, you can figure out how to do just about anything. It just depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it. And if you find yourself in over your head, you can always call in the professionals to bail you out.
Case in point, about four years ago I decided to replace my roof… by myself. The roof on our house had three layers. The original wood shake shingles put on 60 years ago, and two layers of composite shingles over that. I was fine with it, however our insurance company was not. They sent a letter in the mail stating my insurance would be canceled unless I replaced the roof.
I thought this was BS, and based on the advice of a roofing contractor buddy, switched insurance companies. I received a lower rate but got the same notice stating I needed to replace my roof in order to keep the policy. Being the overconfident DIY person that I am, I bought all the materials and decided to do it myself.
Long story short, it didn’t work out so well. The old composition shingles came off fairly easily in big chunks. However, the wood shake shingles just splintered into a thousand pieces around the tiny nails that were used. I quickly found out that this was going to take me forever and be incredibly messy. So after a day and a half, and a very sore back, I called my roofing buddy and told him I had bitten off more than I could chew. He made some calls and had a crew at my house by late morning. By the time it got dark that same day, I had a new roof. Sometimes, it’s better left up to the pros.
Although that DIY attempt didn’t fare so well, the ones that do go well are all the more satisfying. When the buttons on our dishwasher stopped working last year, I tackled the problem myself instead of calling an expensive repair man. Through a little bit of research online, I was able to figure out I needed a new control panel. Once I received the part, it was as simple as removing the old one and plugging in the new one. It worked great until the motor blew out a few months later. Can’t win them all.
Going the DIY route can be a great way to save money. Ideal projects to tackle yourself are ones that don’t present significant danger to a novice. Doing major electrical work like replacing your service box is not something you would want to tackle on your own after watching a few videos. Projects where skills are not hard to master and labor is expensive are the best ones to tackle yourself.
Best Money Saving DIY Projects
While painting can be tedious (especially the prep work), you don’t need to be Bob Ross to paint your home. I’ve painted nearly every room in my house as well as the entire exterior. The supplies you’ll need are not expensive and can be used again. Your meticulous work will save you a lot of money too. The cost to paint an average size room (10×12) runs from $380 to $790. About three-quarters of that amount is for labor, so painting yourself can save you a nice chunk of change.
2) Bathroom Renovation
It’s estimated that two-thirds of the cost to renovate a bathroom is labor. If you’re not doing any major plumbing work, the labor can be done by an average DIYer. This year I’m planning a facelift for our bathroom. It will involve new tile floors, new vanity, and paint. The toughest part about this is we only have one bathroom. So getting the new floor in and the toilet back in place with be priority number one! I plan to take some time off work this summer to knock it out all at once and save myself several thousand dollars in the process.
3) Install Hardwood Floors
Installing a new hardwood floor can be labor intensive, but the techniques are fairly easy to master. Make the job even easier by installing prefinished hardwoods. Pre-finished hardwood floors will run between $2 – $6 per square foot, and up to double that amount for professional installation.
There are many more projects that can easily be done by the average person. Tutorials are everywhere on the internet. Google your next project and you’ll find numerous how to guides and videos to guide you along the way.
Time is Money
The biggest tradeoff when it comes to DIYing is time. What you save in money you lose to time researching, planning and completing the project. I enjoy figuring things out and get a lot of satisfaction from doing so. Not everyone is the same, though. We all have different values that we place on our time. As I keep increasing my income through work and side hustles, the value of my time goes up. Yet I still enjoy completing projects and hate the idea of paying someone for something that I can easily fix.
When figuring out the cost of a DIY project, don’t forget to include your time. If you normally sit on the couch and watch Netflix in your free time, then it doesn’t matter. But if you dedicate time to a side hustle each week, then there is a tradeoff. In this case, estimate the time to complete the project and then add at least 50% if it’s your first time tackling a project. Calculate your hourly rate for your side hustles and add that to the cost of the project. In the end, it might be better to bring in a professional to free up more of your time.
Readers, do you take on projects yourself or call in a professional when something needs to be fixed? What projects have you tackled lately? Have you had any horror stories when it comes to biting off more than you can chew?